July 27, 2009

Israeli Rabbis Fume Over Supreme Court Meddling in Kashrus

Jerusalem….Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is furious that the nation’s highest court has ordered it to provide kosher certification to a woman baker who identifies with the Jews for Jesus movement. In addition to criticizing the court’s “overstepping their jurisdiction,” the rabbis feared that the Court’s meddling could be a “bad precedent” for the future. The Court overturned a decision by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to remove the “hekhsher” because Pnina Conforti considered herself a member of the Jews for Jesus movement. Conforti said that when she opened her first bakery in Gan Yavne in 2002 she enjoyed impressive business success. But after her faith was publicized in an article in a Messianic Jewish magazine, she allegedly suffered from demonstrations outside her bakery and posters with her picture distributed throughout the city warning that she was a missionary. As a result, Gan Yavne Chief Rabbi Meshumar Tzabari revoked her kashrus certificate. In 2006 she opened her second bakery in Ashdod, where she was granted a kosher certificate, but when the Ashdod Rabbinate learned that she was a member of the “Jews for Jesus” movement, it too withdrew the certificate. After she appealed to the Supreme Court, the justices ordered the Rabbinate to pay her $52,000 in legal fees and to re-issue a kashrus certificate.